2020 Chevrolet Traverse vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the Chevrolet Traverse’s middle seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Hyundai Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Traverse are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Traverse has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Both the Traverse and the Santa Fe XL have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Chevrolet Traverse is safer than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

Traverse

Santa Fe XL

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

15.6%

34%

Neck Stress

198 lbs.

375 lbs.

Neck Compression

77 lbs.

103 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

53/40 lbs.

189/318 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

35.2%

53%

Neck Stress

128 lbs.

165 lbs.

Neck Compression

51 lbs.

110 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

258/133 lbs.

337/263 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Chevrolet Traverse is safer than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

Traverse

Santa Fe XL

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

69

96

Chest Movement

.9 inches

.9 inches

Hip Force

204 lbs.

339 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

51 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

15 inches

HIC

251

267

Spine Acceleration

34 G’s

48 G’s

Hip Force

554 lbs.

612 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

There are almost 4 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Hyundai dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Traverse’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Traverse’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 20 more horsepower (310 vs. 290) and 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (266 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Chevrolet Traverse is faster than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL:

Traverse

Santa Fe XL

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.6 MPH

89.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Traverse gets better fuel mileage than the Santa Fe XL:

MPG

Traverse

FWD

3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

18 city/27 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

17 city/25 hwy

Santa Fe XL

FWD

3.3 DOHC 6-cyl.

18 city/25 hwy

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC 6-cyl.

18 city/23 hwy

AWD

3.3 DOHC 6-cyl.

18 city/23 hwy

Ultimate 3.3 DOHC 6-cyl.

17 city/22 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Traverse’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Traverse AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Santa Fe XL (21.7 vs. 18.8 gallons).

The Traverse has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Chevrolet Traverse higher (6 out of 10) than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL (3). This means the Traverse produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Santa Fe XL every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Traverse, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Santa Fe XL.

Brakes and Stopping

The Traverse stops shorter than the Santa Fe XL:

Traverse

Santa Fe XL

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

133 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Traverse has larger tires than the Santa Fe XL (255/65R18 vs. 235/60R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Traverse offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Santa Fe XL’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The Chevrolet Traverse’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Hyundai Santa Fe XL only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Traverse has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Traverse’s wheelbase is 10.7 inches longer than on the Santa Fe XL (120.9 inches vs. 110.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Traverse is 3.2 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Santa Fe XL.

The Traverse RS AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Santa Fe XL AWD pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Traverse RS AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Santa Fe XL AWD (27 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

The front grille of the Traverse uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Traverse uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Traverse has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Santa Fe XL can only carry 7.

The Traverse has 1.4 inches more front headroom, 1.4 inches more front hip room, 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 1.5 inches more rear hip room, 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.5 inches more third row headroom, 2.6 inches more third row legroom, 4.4 inches more third row hip room and 3.6 inches more third row shoulder room than the Santa Fe XL.

Cargo Capacity

The Traverse’s cargo area provides more volume than the Santa Fe XL.

Traverse

Santa Fe XL

Behind Third Seat

23 cubic feet

13.5 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

57.8 cubic feet

40.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

98.2 cubic feet

80 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Traverse High Country’s third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Ergonomics

The Traverse (except L/LS) offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Traverse’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Santa Fe XL’s parking brake has to released manually.

On a hot day the Traverse’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Santa Fe XL can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Traverse LS/LT/RS/Premier/High Country’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its Blue Link can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Traverse’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Santa Fe XL’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

Consumer Reports rated the Traverse’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Santa Fe XL’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

When the Traverse Premier/High Country is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Santa Fe XL’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Traverse Premier/High Country has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Santa Fe XL offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Chevrolet Traverse Premier/High Country has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Traverse is less expensive to operate than the Santa Fe XL because typical repairs cost much less on the Traverse than the Santa Fe XL, including $46 less for a muffler, $71 less for front struts, $53 less for a timing belt/chain and $381 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Traverse outsold the Hyundai Santa Fe by 25% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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